While patients with liver disease are known to have a higher prevalence of glucose intolerance, preliminary studies suggest that hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection may be an additional risk factor for the development of diabetes mellitus. To further study the correlation of HCV infection and diabetes, we performed a retrospective analysis of 1,117 patients with chronic viral hepatitis and analyzed whether age, sex, race, hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection, HCV infection, and cirrhosis were independently associated with diabetes. In addition, a case-control study was conducted to determine the seroprevalence of HCV infection in a cohort of 594 diabetics and 377 clinic patients assessed for thyroid disease. In the former study after the exclusion of patients with conditions predisposing to hyperglycemia, diabetes was observed in 21% of HCV-infected patients compared with 12% of HBV-infected subjects (P = .0004). Multivariate analysis revealed that HCV infection (P = .02) and age (P = .01) were independent predictors of diabetes. In the diabetes cohort, 4.2% of patients were found to be infected with HCV compared with 1.6% of control patients (P = .02). HCV genotype 2a was observed in 29% of HCV-RNA-positive diabetic patients versus 3% of local HCV-infected controls (P < .005). In conclusion, the data suggest a relatively strong association between HCV infection and diabetes, because diabetics have an increased frequency of HCV infection, particularly with genotype 2a. Furthermore, it is possible that HCV infection may serve as an additional risk factor for the development of diabetes, beyond that attributable to chronic liver disease alone.
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